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Four kids (Mia, Pai, Lamda, and token male Roll) are abducted and brainwashed by the kindly (!) Professor Tarsan and trained to become warriors in the fight against the pirate Galimos. They later discover that their planets were destroyed by the invaders (who keep their armor on indoors so the animators don't have to move their lips) and that the kids' powers are the last thing that prevents the end of the universe.
The 1980s anime industry, still taking tottering steps into the world of straight-to-video science fiction, had a lot of trouble working out what to give its audience. Boys who had grown up watching kiddie shows that featured giant transforming robots were now grown-up twentysomethings with VCRs, and this was one of the many experiments aimed at bringing them back. But the amnesia subplot is a lame excuse for long exposition scenes and huge holes in the plot, and it contains many of the flaws of children's shows without exploiting their appeal. The end result is a show that imitates the big-robot fights (originally designed to sell toys) and halfheartedly includes a psychic-weapon subplot influenced by Akira. Ultimately too childish for an adult audience and too complex for kids, Dangaioh is an also-ran in Japanese sci-fi.
Originally sold as Dangaio (sic) in a subtitled edition in the U.S., the first episode was dropped from Manga Entertainment's compilation dub, which added the final "h." The dub is the usual shrill mess that characterizes translations of the period; listen for the telltale "bloodies" and occasional asides like Pai's darts slang ("One hundred and eighty!") that mark this as a British dub made with American accents to secure U.S. distribution.
Note also the careful balancing of the sexes. Producer Toru Miura realized early on that a primarily male audience would prefer to watch a lone boy amid a gaggle of gorgeous girls rather than a load of sweaty men in spacesuits. Miura went on to perfect this eye-candy formula in the hugely popular Tenchi Muyo!
The video series was remade for television as the 13-episode G Dangaio (2001), which begins with Miya Alice crash-landing on Earth in the 1980s and sending a telepathic message to teenager Miya Shikitani that warns her of the approach of Banger Invaders. The Terran Miya starts developing a Dangaioh unit to defend Earth, and ten years later they are ready to defend the planet with the aid of the combining Dangaioh Burst, Dangaioh Flail, and Dangaioh Cross, piloted by angst-ridden teens Takaya Tenjo, Manami Umishio, and Hitomi Jido. G Dangaioh ends without actually concluding the plot; there is an indication that a second series was intended, but it has not materialized as this book goes to press.